Jonathan Van Meter profiles Hillary Clinton in the latest issue of Vogue, and he's got some nice tidbits about how Clinton came to be Secretary of State. With all the post-primary bitterness between the two camps, and all the speculation that she might be named VP, Clinton was apparently quite surprised to be offered the job at State:
"I was stunned after the election when President Obama asked me to consider this," she says. "I really was very unconvinced. I did not think it was the right thing to do. I didn't want to do it. I just really had a lot of doubts, and I kept suggesting other people: Well, how about this person! How about that person! This one would be really good! But then a friend of mine called me and basically said, 'How would you have felt if you'd been elected and you'd called him and asked him to do this?' And that really made a big impression on me. How do you say no? And so...I said yes. And here I am." She laughs and picks up her fork and stabs a kiwi out of her fruit salad and pops it in her mouth.
And it was President Obama himself who did most of the legwork in convincing her: some of her aides were certain, up until the last minute, that she would say "no," but Obama swayed her back each time:
Each time Clinton wavered, Obama would talk her through it again. "At the end of the day," says one of her aides, "it was the president who sold her on it. He didn't delegate it." Says another staffer, "They started talking about it substantively, looking around the globe, and they were basically in the same place. The things they disagreed about in the campaign? We didn't believe he was actually going to have coffee with Ahmadinejad. It was something he shouldn't have said in the campaign, and we pounced on it. The tiny differences in their foreign-policy ideas during the primaries evaporated during the general election."...
What finally changed her mind? "Obama wouldn't take no for an answer, and he was just very smart with her," says one of her aides. "He talked about it from the right place in the right way, helping her imagine what it would be like. And she said, OK, well, let's think about it some more. Eventually he was successful at convincing her. He would not let her off the hook. Knowing her and having worked with her--that button got pushed, that we-need-you-to-serve-your-country button."
And now, here she is. One can't help but think that things have worked out, politically: despite the initial rumblings about her portfolio not being big enough--and that the appointment of special envoys Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell to Afghanistan/Pakistan and the Middle East had usurped some of her eminence and authority--Clinton is now in a position of doing real, important, and sometimes glamorous work, and the talk of disaffected PUMAs has pretty much gone away. Which might not be the case if she'd said "no."
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